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I no longer read comics; but I used to buy a great deal of them and still have a lingering affection for the DC Comics characters I loved back when I had more disposable income.  Which is why it frustrates me when DC does things like this:

DC Celebrates Black History Month by Whitewashing Black Characters

A li'l more context below the fold:

A couple years ago, DC Comics did one of it's continuity re-sets that it does every other decade or so, in order to preserve the illusion of change while still keeping Superman eternally 30 years old.  Usually they used these re-sets as an excuse to change parts of the DC Universe.  In Crisis on Infinite Earths, for example, they eliminated all alternate timelines, made Superman the sole survivor of Krypton, gave Wonder Woman a new origin story and made Lex Luthor a Respectable Businessman.

These changes are always controversial, but eventually settle down to become the status quo.  And then get undone a couple years later.

The latest revision, giving us the "New 52" (Referring to the new status quo where there no longer an infinite number of earths in the Multiverse, just 52; and that DC now publishes exactly 52 titles at any given time), has given us it's share of aggravating alterations.  They made Starfire of the Teen Titans a slut; they've had Superman dump Lois and start dating Wonder Woman; I've already griped about what they've done to the Creeper, Lobo, and Amanda Waller, (admittedly minor characters, but ones I liked).

This week we have two "New" characters appear.  Well, the characters seem to be new, but the names aren't.

One of them is called Red Arrow.  He'd appeared before in EARTH 2, one of the new titles set on an alternate Earth, and has been generally assumed to be an alternate version of Roy Harper, Green Arrow's old sidekick Speedy.  (Who has an interesting backstory too, but that's irrelevant).  Except in this week's issue, another character identifies him as "Connor Hawke."

Why is this significant?  Well, maybe it isn't.  But in the 1990s, Green Arrow was given an adult son named Connor Hawke, who went on to be the replacement Green Arrow when Ollie spent a few years dead for tax purposes, or something.  Connor's mother was African-Asian, and Connor himself had blond hair and dark skin.

The new Connor Hawke, well, looks like Roy Harper.  Very white and with red hair.

Of course, this is an Alternate Universe.  You gotta cut it some slack.  In one of the Alternate Earths they've depicted, Superman is black.  This happens to be one where Connor Hawke is white.  I didn't particularly like Connor in the first place.

But in another comic released this week -- an issue of GREEN ARROW wouldn't you know it -- another character is re-introduced.  Her name is Onyx, and she was associated with a group called The Outsiders.  I was totally unfamiliar with her, but apparently she was originally an assassin who comes to be on the side of the good guys and earns Batman's respect and stuff.  She was also black, something which seems to have eluded the attention of the creative team and the editor working on the book.

In fairness, though, the blog DC Women Kicking Ass observes that this week also unveiled the Earth 2 Aquawoman, a black woman who looks quite impressive.

(sigh).  One step forward, two steps back.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (11+ / 0-)

    Read my webcomic, "Hannibal Tesla Adventure Magazine" at http://www.kurtoonsonline.com/

    by quarkstomper on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 07:35:31 AM PST

  •  Kind of goes against the grain to have a white (7+ / 0-)

    character called Onyx. In any universe. Like you probably wouldnt run into a black character named Ivory or Snow. (Or Ivory Snow)

    •  What's in a Name? (5+ / 0-)

      Well, Will Eisner's character The Spirit used to have a black kid sidekick named Ebony White.  It probably seemed cute at the time, but Eisner spent the rest of his career regretting it.

      Read my webcomic, "Hannibal Tesla Adventure Magazine" at http://www.kurtoonsonline.com/

      by quarkstomper on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 07:57:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  "Ebony" vs "Eubie" (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest

        In the 1970s there was a made-for-tv movie version of The Spirit that was, I don't know, about a zillion times better than Frank Miller's ghastly mess, really captured the tongue-in-cheek flavor of Eisner's creation. (Right down to the Spirit's shirt reduced to shreds after a fight scene.)

        A black adolescent sidekick showed up in the movie, only he was "Eubie," (probably named for jazz pianist Eubie Blake) not Ebony. Here he was a street-smart kid caught selling defective walkmen cassette players. ("The rewind's broken but you can flip the tape over and use fast-forward.") A respectful nod to Eisner's original strip while dropping the leftover 1940's racial baggage.

        You can't stop progress (or is that "profit"?)

        by Miscweant on Sun Feb 09, 2014 at 12:00:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I was hoping the Green Latern would feature (4+ / 0-)

    an AA actor. But I gather the character was originally white and then changed to an African-American in later incarnations?

    •  Oh, yes there has been a black Green Lantern (4+ / 0-)

      John Stewart who still appears on and off, I think.

      •  But the movie, which I've not seen, has a white... (4+ / 0-)

        GL, right? I'm not hating on the actor who got the role but it's an interesting discussion.

        I'd like to see more AA superheroes---perhaps a Blade reboot? Spawn? I'd LOVE to see a stand alone Nick Fury/Black Widow flick but I don't wanna go too far off topic.

        •  Hal Jordan is the "classic" Green Lantern (5+ / 0-)

          well...there was also Allan whas-his name on Earth-2.

          Marvel Comics would be the home of major superheroes of color, though. (Black Panther, there has been a black Iron Man, Storm of the X-Men, etc.)

          •  Marvel does always seem to have the most (3+ / 0-)

            minority characters of the big two.  Check out the new "Mighty Avengers" comic, which Luke Cage, Blue Marvel, Spectrum (formerly Capt. Marvel), the Falcon and "the new Power Man" (all African American characters) and the latest incarnation of the White Tiger (a hispanic woman). Blade (an African American vampire) is also in the comic, although he's on a brief hiatus at the moment (he'll be back soon I believe). The comic rocks. Marvel will also be launching a new comic featuring James Rhodes (who was the African American character who replaced Tony Stark as Iron Man for a while) called the "Iron Patriot" sometime this year.  

            I'm also excited that the upcoming X-men will feature Sunspot (a hispanic from Brazil), Bishop (an African American), and Blink (who is being played by a Chinese actress) along with Storm.

        •  Some More Black Characters (4+ / 0-)

          A character I would love to see -- if done right -- is Black Lightning, the first black hero in DC comics to get his own title.    It won't happen any time soon, because of office politics and the character's creator, Tony Isabella.

          Under DC's agreement with Tony, one of the first in the '70s to try giving creators rights, he gets royalties whenever the character is used outside of comic books.  And so when the SUPER FRIENDS cartoon was made in the '70s and Hanna-Barbera wanted to diversify the cast, they created a new character called "Black Vulcan" instead of using BL.  Decades later, when the creators of the animated series STATIC SHOCK wanted to do a BL tribute episode, word came down from DC that they couldn't use him and had to make someone similar but different.

          Recently, Black Lightning has been more prominent as a member of the Justice League, but his status in the DCU has been a precarious thing.

          STATIC is also a very good character.  He was created by Dwayne McDuffie, whom I mention in a comment below, as part of Milestone Comics, a line of creator-owned comics that was distributed under DC's mantle.  The character eventually was made into an animated series called STATIC SHOCK.  Eventually DC and the Milestone creators came to an agreement under which the Milestone heroes like Static were folded into the DCU, and Static has made some appearances since then, but DC really doesn't know what to do with him.

          Read my webcomic, "Hannibal Tesla Adventure Magazine" at http://www.kurtoonsonline.com/

          by quarkstomper on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 09:16:00 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I loved Static Shock (3+ / 0-)

            A different version of Static also appeared on Young Justice. But outside of him guest starring on Justice League Unlimited I can't think of any other animated appearances of the character.

            Why do I have the feeling George W. Bush joined the Stonecutters, ate a mess of ribs, and used the Constitution as a napkin?

            by Matt Z on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 01:28:49 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Green Lantern is... (8+ / 0-)

        a title, not the actual person, in the DC universe. It would be the equivalent of calling someone "Marine"; it's true, but it doesn't tell the whole story.

        The DC Universe has had multiple Green Lanterns.

        Alan Scott, the first to appear in comics, (white), now semi-retired and older. He's not counted among the "real" Green Lanterns.

        The Green Lanterns everyone generally think of are members of the Green Lantern Corps, a peacekeeper/law enforcement group created by the alien Guardians. The Green Lanterns who are based on Earth are:

        Hal Jordan, (white) the classic and first "modern" Green Lantern character (seen in the live action movie).

        John Stewart (African-American), supposed to be Hal's backup but gained a larger role in the comics, eventually becoming the Green Lantern who was featured in the Justice League/Justice League Unlimited animated series. Because of the impact of the DC Animated Universe series, Stewart for a while was pretty much the Green Lantern in people's minds.

        Guy Gardener (white), who was equally qualified as Hal, but who was further away at the time and thus not chosen. He later gained a ring and a brain injury that made him an insufferable jerkass, but nonetheless a hero. Often used for comic relief, his later portrayal was that of someone who could be a jerk but was really a good guy at heart and a real badass.

        Kyle Rayner (latino) was the next Earth Green Lantern and for a while the only one in existence.

        The newest GL (from the new 52) is Simon Baz, a Lebanese-American Muslim.

        If anything, the problem with the portrayal of Green Lanterns in comics is that apparently the US is the only country on the planet they're recruited from.

        •  I should also mention... (6+ / 0-)

          That in continuity it isn't necessarily a case of one character replacing an other: Jordan, Stewart, Rayner, and Gardener were, at one point, all Green Lanterns at the same time (and Alan Scott continues to be).

        •  Rayner was always my favorite (5+ / 0-)

          He was an artist (which really added to his powers when it came to the ring) who also provided some comic relief.

          Hal Jordan, to me, was always kinda drab; I like Jordan more as the Spectre.

        •  DC add ed John Stewart (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          quarkstomper, Matt Z, RiveroftheWest

          in the INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US game and he is currently the end reward for the challenge mode thats been going on for the last 8 days.  I got the first two cards but I don't think I have the time (or characters) to beat it on NIGHTMARE for the 3rd.

          He looks good though.  Best armor of all the GL's so far, although the Regime Green Lantern looks pretty good with the neon green trim on his outfit.

          Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

          by Wisper on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 10:32:15 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Sounds so foreign, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          quarkstomper, RiveroftheWest
          The newest GL (from the new 52) is Simon Baz, a Lebanese-American Muslim.
          I kid, and I appreciate your comment.
          Did you watch the movie? Any good?
          •  Enh (4+ / 0-)

            Didn't think it was as bad as some, didn't think it was nearly as good as others.

            I thought they missed out a great opportunity at the end. If Marvel Studios had made the film, there would have been a scene in the credits would have had a shot of Jordan looking up at the roof of a building and in the shot you see the boots of two people standing there looking down at him, one set of red boots, one set of black boots, and a gravelly voice saying "Jordan. We need to talk."

        •  No evil shall escape my sight? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          quarkstomper

          There seems to me to be a philosophical problem about the role of a Green Lantern.

          If the purpose is to fight evil, as the oath used to charge green power rings suggests, that may not be the same thing as upholding what a particular society at a particular time thinks is right and legal.

          Consider, as an extreme proposition, the position for a pre-Civil War American Green Lantern. Does he uphold the fugitive slave laws, as the law of the land. Does he help fugitive slaves? Is it his duty to instigate a slave uprising? Is the answer different if the GL was a white northerner, a white southerner or an African-American? Does an attempt to address some evils run the risk of creating unintended consequences and giving rise to other evils?

          This sort of moral dilemma was raised a bit in the 1970s, but it does not seem to be a major theme in most eras of the comic book. It is probably a lot easier and safer to write stories about fighting unambiguously evil foes than to grapple with bigger and subtler issues.

          There is no man alive who is sufficiently good to rule the life of the man next door to him. Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris, M.P.

          by Gary J on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 06:51:27 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I think he's black in the cartoon my nephew (4+ / 0-)

      watches.

      •  Justice League/ Justice League Unlimited (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        quarkstomper

        Great cartoon and I say that as someone who watched it as an adult in law school. (And still watches it, actually: I bought the DVD collection when it came out.)

        My nieces really loved it, too, in no small part because there were female superheroes who got to actually do stuff and be important. Especially in JLU.

    •  John Steward (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nova Land, dclawyer06, RiveroftheWest

      The original Golden Age Green Lantern of the 1930s, Alan Scott, was white; so was the re-vamped version of the Silver Age, Hal Jordan.  It was that era when the GL was made to be a member of a group of galactic policemen.

      In the early 70s, when DC entered its "Socially Relevant Era", the character of John Steward, a black architect, was also made a Green Lantern.  He was sort of a "back-up" GL, filling in when Hal was off on a mission in space; but as time progress he became a respected member of the Green Lantern Corps in his own right.

      John Steward had some ups and downs in the '80s and '90s.  High points included becoming custodian of Oa in the MOSAIC series; low points involved failing to prevent the destruction of a planet in COSMIC ODYSSEY; the senseless murder of his wife , the alien Green Lantern Katma Tui; and a crippling injury which sidelined him for several years.

      The creators of the Justice League animated series felt that the line-up of heroes was a little too white-bread.  In order to give some sort of racial diversity to the cast, they used John Steward as the group's Green Lantern instead of Hal Jordan.  And so for a generation of fans introduced to the JLA through television, John became The Green Lantern.

      Dwayne McDuffie, a talented black comic book writer who served as story editor for much of the series run, deserves a lot of the credit for developing John as a character and making him one of the most authoritive characters of the League.

      And to be honest. Hal has always been kind of a cocky guy and a bit of an arrogant jerk.  In many ways, John is a more heroic character.

      Read my webcomic, "Hannibal Tesla Adventure Magazine" at http://www.kurtoonsonline.com/

      by quarkstomper on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 09:00:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There are a lot of Green Lanterns. (5+ / 0-)

      Green Lantern isn't so much one hero as an organized corps or class of heroes. The ones featured in the comic books are the human GLs who are charged with defending Earth.

      The first few featured Green Lanterns—Alan Scott (Golden Age) and Hal Jordan (Silver Age)—were white, as were some of the other latter-day incarnations like Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner. But there has been a black Green Lantern, Jon Stewart, featured in the comic books as well.

      Jon Stewart is the Green Lantern who appears in the Justice League cartoons, but the one in the movie was Hal Jordan, who's probably the best-known of the GLs.

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

      by JamesGG on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 09:13:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  you forgot Jesus (nt) (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    quarkstomper, RiveroftheWest

    warning: snark probably above

    by NE2 on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 09:02:05 AM PST

  •  I must disagree! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    quarkstomper, Matt Z, RiveroftheWest
    the Creeper, Lobo, and Amanda Waller, (admittedly minor characters, but ones I liked)
    ... about Amanda Waller being a minor character, that is.

    She was a lead character in the 1980s Suicide Squad series for its entire 5 years. She was then a featured character in Checkmate. In addition, she appeared in the Smallville tv series and is currently being used in Arrow -- so it's not just comic book fans who should be familiar with her.

    Plus she's one of my favorite characters -- at least as handled by writer John Ostrander, writer of that 1980s series. She was a brilliant creation, right up there with Tony Isabella's Black Lightning and Dwayne MacDuffie's Static.

    Pretty much everything else you say in the diary, though, I strongly agree with.

    Well, except for liking Lobo. No accounting for taste, I suppose!

    •  Lobo Could Be Fun In Small Doses... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nova Land, Matt Z, RiveroftheWest

      ... but I concede your point about Waller.  She may not have been a headliner, but she was an important supporting character.  (Hm.  Would that be a Load-Bearing Wall?)

      I'm going to be running a Suicide Squad RPG at a local gaming convention in a couple of weeks.  You can bet that Waller will be around to keep Captain Boomerang in line.

      Read my webcomic, "Hannibal Tesla Adventure Magazine" at http://www.kurtoonsonline.com/

      by quarkstomper on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 09:42:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I wish that DC would hire John Ostrander to write (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        quarkstomper, RiveroftheWest

        a new comic, The Wall, starring Amanda Waller (the real one, not the one in current continuity).

        As originally conceived Amanda Waller was a great character. But great characters call for great writers, and there are too few of those working in comics these days. The new slimmed down Waller is a cookie-cutter character scarcely worth remembering.

        It's a mystery to me why John Ostrander isn't a household name, at least among comics fans. But then it's a mystery to me why William Messner-Loebs and Tony Isabella aren't household names. All of them should be under contract to write as many pages a month as they are able.

  •  I remember one comic (4+ / 0-)

    Where an African American asks the Green Lantern something to the effect of

    "You've helped people blue skins, green skins, .... but why have you never helped people with black skins -- answer me  that Mr. Green Lantern"

  •  According to Green Arrow writer Jeff Lemire (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    quarkstomper, RiveroftheWest
    •  Perhaps That Was His Intent... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest, Nova Land

      Perhaps that was the writer's intent, but it did not seem to get through to the artist and the colorist.  Perhaps in context it makes more sense, and perhaps I and the other criticisms I've read have been overreacting to single panels; but I think this is something a good editor should have caught and addressed.

      Read my webcomic, "Hannibal Tesla Adventure Magazine" at http://www.kurtoonsonline.com/

      by quarkstomper on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 12:28:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  When you consider that Onyx (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    quarkstomper, RiveroftheWest

    is a black stone, the symbolism of the name with the original character is obvious.

    Black_Onyx

    on·yx  [on-iks, oh-niks]  
    noun
    1.
    Mineralogy . a variety of chalcedony having straight parallel bands of alternating colors. Compare Mexican onyx.
    2.
    (not used technically) an unbanded chalcedony dyed for ornamental purposes.
    3.
    black, especially a pure or jet black.
    4.
    Medicine/Medical . a nail of a finger or toe.
    adjective
    5.
    black, especially jet black.
    So to make the character a white chick makes no sense at all -- whoever's in charge at DC needs a good lesson in word meanings and origins at the very least.

    I remember the Starfire controversy from a few years back -- there was at least one young female blogger who was quite irate about it (wish I'd kept that link).

    There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

    by Cali Scribe on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 12:36:56 PM PST

  •  In fairness, DC did introduce a Black Batman, (3+ / 0-)

    No, Bruce Wayne is still THE Batman, but as revealed in "Batman Inc" there are Batmen in other countries operating under his aegis.

    One of them is Batwing; its kind of confusing but basically he's been played by two different characters, one an actual African (non-american) and the current one being an African-American.

    I am willing to give DC the benefit of the doubt in some of their "casting decisions"

    Also in this new reboot, DC made Cyborg (an African American...well, cyborg) a key member of the Justice League whereas previously, he had always been in the Teen Titans.

    Also, they tried to do something with Vibe, (long story: basically this is a Hispanic character who was a horrible breakdancing stereotype when first introduced in the early 80s) by giving him a book.  Another Hispanic character is the Blue Beetle.

    Sadly, Batwing is the only minority character who still has a book. Vibe, Static, Mr. Terrific (African American genius superhero) and Blue Beetle all got canceled. (Along with other books featuring caucasians)

    DC and parent Time Warner simply lack the patience for books like these to grow and find and audience. Most of the books they publish right now are in some way connected to Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and/or Green Lantern.

    Comics fans simply seem to get nervous when confronted with new characters.

    One thing I really DON'T like is the "shrinking of Amanda Waller".  Previously, she was a middle aged, heavy-set black woman and it fit the character. Now she's younger and has the typical bikini body of female characters. Bad move.  

    Message to Dems: We HAVE to start showing up for Midterms.

    by Jank2112 on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 01:30:25 PM PST

    •  Vibe (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nova Land, RiveroftheWest

      The breakdancing Vibe is a wonderful demonstration of the truism that you can be sure a fad is dead when it appears in a mainstream comic book.

      He was a well-intentioned but badly-executed attempt to create a Latino character who could have perhaps overcome his bad concept except that he was part of a really bad attempt to replicate the success of X-MEN by replacing everyone on the Justice League with angstful teens.

      A better-executed Latino character was EL DIABLO, an updated version of an old Golden Age character.  The original was (I believe) pretty much a Zorro knock-off.  The newer version was a crusading attorney by day who also fought crime on a motorcycle.  As I recall, it was decently-written and had some very good artwork.  The writer originally pitched the idea as a miniseries, but DC's publisher at the time said, "No, this is something we should do as an ongoing series."  To their credit, DC did stick with the series for something like a year before it sunk.

      Read my webcomic, "Hannibal Tesla Adventure Magazine" at http://www.kurtoonsonline.com/

      by quarkstomper on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 01:50:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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